Mike Nugent's Daily Training Camp Blog

Warpaint Illustrated's Mike Nugent updates all the happenings on the practice field in his daily River Falls Training Camp Blog. Twice a day he'll update the blog so you don't miss out on anything that happened on the practice field surrounding your Kansas City Chiefs. Today he looks back at the Houston Texans game.

08/13/06 - Updated 2:42 AM
Training Camp Blog Day 15 - "It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings. That's why I came to sing…"


Every August, that poignant theme from the movie "Wildcats" plays over and over again in my head. It's as inevitable as the changing of the leaves, or the Chiefs inability to stop the bootleg.

I know it's early, and I know the defense is vanilla, but with the history of this team, the first page of the playbook should be "stopping the bootleg". The Chiefs' primary rival in the division runs this play with the precision of an between the tackles, and his pass protection was good. The screen game, however, was a different story. I've seen him run screens, and I'm not sure that's his forte'. Too bad, because it has to be a strong suit in this offense.

Let's talk about Casey Printers. First, it was telling that the Chiefs basically played him the whole game, despite the fact they had just signed Jeff Smoker. With Croyle and Huard out, the Chiefs are accelerating his development. Printers did a good job of getting the team out of the huddle, keeping in mind that they didn't call any of the shifts they normally do.

You could see Printers pressing. You could see some of the indecisiveness about whether to run or throw, but those things will pass. The offensive line let him down. His athleticism brings a new dimension to the offense, something the Chiefs haven't had from the quarterback position. It will also make up for him not having a full grasp of the offense. He'll get better as the preseason progresses. The strike to Chris Hannon is probably more indicative of his ability.

In case the title wasn't clear enough, this is the final blog of the 2006 training camp. The Chiefs will only practice three or four more times between now and the end of camp. Cuts won't come until camp is over. I'll probably blog again about the roster between now and next Friday, so look for that.

08/10/06 - Updated 1:42 AM
Training Camp Blog Day 13 - With all this blog business, I'm starting to feel a little like Jane Goodall.

I've seen Brian Waters, and he's walking normally. No limp, he's not favoring his leg, and he negotiated some stairs just fine. Based on seeing him walk, I'd say he's going to be fine.

It looks like the odd man out in the wide receiver corps may be Darrell Hill for right now. His hamstring injury is costing him the opportunity to compete.

Quarterback Damon Huard went down with a strained foot, so the Chiefs signed former Rams quarterback Jeff Smoker. Smoker was dropped by the Rams this offseason when they signed Gus Frerotte. The Chiefs and the Rams run the same offense, with minor differences, so Smoker should be fine. It looks like he's here strictly so the Chiefs won't have to play Printers for most of the game in Houston on Saturday. He'll probably get most of the reps anyway, but Smoker provides insurance.

It's also an opportunity for Smoker to show NFL teams he can play. With a good showing, he may not win a spot with the Chiefs, but another team around the league may find him interesting if they're not happy with one of the guys on their roster.

Offensively, look for these keys in Saturday's game:

1. Watch the rhythm of the offense when Printers is in the game. Look at how he breaks the huddle and gets guys to the line of scrimmage. Watch Printers' body language. One of the things the Chiefs are looking for is leadership on the field. With Huard out, he's got a chance to make some headway in the backup quarterback competition.

2. Watch Printers' pocket presence. The Chiefs know he can run with the football. Can he stay in the pocket and deliver the football downfield? Will he make smart decisions in the pocket?

3. Make sure to keep an eye on the offensive line. Of course, everyone will be watching the starting tackles, likely Kyle Turley and Kevin Sampson. Make sure to watch Will Svitek when he comes in (like I really had to remind you guys), but watch the guard position as well. Chris Bober will probably sub for the injured Brian Waters. Jordan Black will get some time at guard, where he's looked pretty good in practice. Peter Heyer will probably get some extended time as well.

4. With wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe out, Jeris McIntyre and Nate Curry will get an opportunity to compete. After spending time on the practice squad last season, one of these two guys might be ready to break out. There's an opportunity there for one or maybe both of those guys.

5. Watch the rookie receivers, Chris Hannon and Jeff Webb. Webb especially has shown great speed and soft hands. He's good at using his size to grab passes before a defensive back can make the play.

6. The backup fullback position is a race between J.R. Niklos and Robert Docherty. Docherty's the front runner, but Niklos is putting in the work. Their keys are lead blocking in the running game, of course, and pass protection, but also catching the ball out of the backfield and running. The Chiefs won't run the fullback a lot, but they do expect the position to be the occasional safety valve on passing plays. Watch how they get their hands on guys in space in the screen game, also. It's a different matter when you have to go get a guy and block him. 08/6/06 - Updated 10:42 PM
Training Camp Blog Day 10 - No practice today. I just wanted to weigh in quickly about what's happening for the Chiefs at the backup slots behind Trent Green.

Damon Huard is the primary backup right now, but Casey Printers can win the job. Huard is an NFL veteran and knows the offense, but he hasn't done anything at this point that makes him absolutely invaluable. Printers is raw, but his athletic ability could make up for his lack of experience. He can't go through all the progressions yet, but he can buy time with his feet and find a guy downfield. Or he can simply tuck it and run, an element the Chiefs haven't had since Rich Gannon.

Make sure to watch Printers and Huard closely in preseason. I think Printers can win the backup job with a strong showing. He's got the confidence and leadership ability. If he can get the team in and out of the huddle and move the chains, say hello to your new backup. If he struggles, the Chiefs will likely keep him around and continue to develop him.

Brodie Croyle looks to be the future at quarterback, but his injury status clouds the picture. The Chiefs don't want to put Printers or Croyle on the practice squad. If Printers wins the backup job, Croyle will be the third quarterback. He's missing too much time to compete for the second spot, but he's earned a spot with the Chiefs.

Since the Chiefs plan to keep a backup fullback, and may keep an extra receiver due to Craphonso Thorpe's health, it's hard to believe the Chiefs will keep a fourth quarterback without having to cut someone they're high on.

Training Camp Blog Day 9 - There wasn't a whole lot to report from tonight's practice, and I had to finish the podcast, plus I appreciate everyone who comes to the site, free or premium. So, I'm just posting tonight's blog on the free board (there's not much).

The usual guys were out plus Jimmy Wilkerson and Carlos Hall, both of whom Herm said were coming back Monday. Darrell Hill's out with a hamstring pull, too.

My favorite play of the night: Boomer Grigsby and Bernard Pollard putting the double beef sandwich on Damon Huard. Man, those guys can hit. Huard deserves credit for not passing out.

Quentin Griffin ripped off his best run of training camp so far. I still don't think he's going to make this team. He's not a bad runner, but I just don't think the numbers are going to add up.

The Ty Law/Samie Parker battle continues. Today's winner: Ty Law. Law showed the speed to keep up and break up a pass on one deep throw, then broke up a slant in goal line drills.

I talked to tight end Robert Docherty after practice. He's making a big run at the backup fullback position. He can catch, a major point for fullbacks in this offense and he can block. The Chiefs have been playing all the backup tight ends in the fullback position, but Docherty looks the most comfortable.

08/5/06 - Updated 2:42 AM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 8 - After a couple of years away, the Chiefs returned to Mankato, Minnesota to scrimmage against the Minnesota Vikings. There were plenty of Chiefs fans on hand, and the atmosphere in the small college stadium was electric. It was just a scrimmage, but there was a pre-game feel to things. The smell of tailgating was in the air. Someone was operating a grill nearby.

The Vikings have a talented team, particularly along the offensive line and in the secondary. Guys like offensive tackle Bryan McKinnie, guard Steve Hutchinson, cornerback Fred Smoot and safety Darren Sharper were on hand to give the Chiefs all they could handle.

There was no Brian Waters, Craphonso Thorpe, Alphonso Hodge or Lenny Walls. Head coach Herm Edwards held out Larry Johnson and rested Trent Green, Eddie Kennison and Will Shields for the bulk of the reps.

There was one fight. Not even a fight, really. Defensive end Zach Ville delivered a right cross to the facemask of Hutchinson, and the two got tangled up in a one-on-one drill. They were quickly separated, though, and no one else got involved.

Overall, the defensive front seven was solid against the run; the defensive backs were a little disappointing in one-on-ones although there were some guys who showed some good things. The Chiefs were able to generate some pass rush on the edges, but nothing up the middle until defensive tackles Ryan Sims and Lional Dalton came in. That was against the second-team. Offensively, the Chiefs were crisp, particularly the starters against the Vikings defensive starters.

Benny Sapp is a good corner. I know he's smaller than you'd like at the position, but his quickness and ability to change direction makes him ideal for playing the nickel back position. He also has as much confidence as any other player on the team despite his size.

Safety Jarrad Page continues to impress as a cover man at the safety position. The Vikings are known for having a speedy receiving corps, and Page was able to keep up with every guy he faced. They went deep on him a lot, probably because the Vikings know he's a safety, but he held his own.

Bernard Pollard could have killed a couple of guys if he wanted to. Lucky for them, it's only practice.

Left tackle Kyle Turley held up well against the Vikings' defensive ends, as did right tackle Kevin Sampson.

Defensive tackle James Reed got handled often by Vikings' guard Steve Hutchinson. Hutchinson stonewalled just about everyone he faced, but things were particularly bad for Reed. From what I saw, Hutchinson is the real deal. The man can flat out block.

Vikings offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie is no slouch, either. He and defensive end Jared Allen battled to a draw tonight. I thought McKinnie would dominate Allen, but the defensive end held his own and gave McKinnie all he could handle.

Defensive tackle Lional Dalton had trouble keeping his feet at first in drills, but after a while he started terrorizing the Vikings offensive line reserves.

08/3/06 - Updated 11:42 PM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 7 - Still no Brian Waters. Craphonso Thorpe was out. Alphonso Hodge and Lenny Walls did not practice, again.

Quarterback Casey Printers disappointed me early in camp with some of his post-play body language. When a guy dropped a pass or he missed a receiver, you could see in the way he carried himself that he was disappointed. That's not something you want to see from a quarterback. Part of leadership and poise is to not let the opposition or fans know that you're not happy. Watch quarterback Trent Green after a bad play. You wouldn't know it from watching him.

I'm finding out that's part of Printers' make up. He showed emotion today after making a couple of great plays; one with his feet and another with his arm. Apparently, the Chiefs have a live one on their hands. Printers was talking trash to the defense, and moving around with a lot of energy after his plays.

Quarterback Brodie Croyle sat out with a sore shoulder. That gave Printers the opportunity for even more reps. I'm beginning to think that Printers could supplant Damon Huard as Green's primary backup. He doesn't know the offense as well, but sometimes a guy with Printers' athleticism can fake it and make plays until he learns. He's definitely improving, though, and with Huard one-hopping passes, there could be a sliver of opportunity.

With all the talk about safety Bernard Pollard, Jarrad Page has been quietly having a stellar camp. Those two are looking like they'll be the primary backups to Greg Wesley and Sammy Knight. Page and Pollard have been getting tons of reps, and Page has been around the ball a lot. Both of the young safeties are good in coverage, a great asset to have in the Cover Two. They're both also willing to stick their nose in on the run. William Bartee is a solid safety, believe it or not, but I think he's going to have a tough time making the team.

Linebacker Kawika Mitchell is the glue that holds this defense together. He's been having a great camp, and makes plays every day, particularly the small things that set up other guys. Today, Mitchell got an interception in the endzone, and ran it out, but Edwards stopped him. I guess that makes some sense, as you could get tackled on the two yard line or fumble the ball. On another play, Mitchell blew up fullback Ronnie Cruz on a sweep, collapsing the play. "Blew up" really isn't a strong enough description. He leveled Cruz. It was the most impressive hit so far in camp.

08/3/06 - Updated 3:42 PM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 7 - He didn't practice today, but here's my quick scouting report on newly acquired running back Michael Bennett:

This is a guy with outstanding speed. There are very few guys in the NFL that can keep up with him, let alone catch him. Bennett's speed makes him an excellent perimeter runner. Coupled with his good hands, his speed makes him a dangerous player on screen passes. He can catch the ball and get upfield in a hurry. The two major knocks on Bennett have been his vision on interior runs and his ability to stay healthy. He should make a pretty good backup to running back Larry Johnson, and I expect him to get plenty of carries as a change of pace back.

Tight end Jason Dunn returned to practice. Wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe went back to the sidelines. We still haven't seen guard Brian Waters. Offensive tackle Kyle Turley was held out for a rest.

Most of offensive Tackle Kevin Sampson's problems blocking may be with speed moves. Defensive end Tamba Hali beats him regularly, but I haven't seen end Eric Hicks beat him once. True, Hali is starting to look like the better player, but I'm going to watch Sampson intently during the practices with the Vikings tomorrow.

Not only do the Chiefs have two excellent cover corners in Patrick Surtain and Ty Law, but they're great against the run. The pair hasn't been shy about sticking their nose in the play on sweeps. Cover Two corners have to play that way.

On the flip side of that, the safeties have to be good in coverage, too. That will probably determine which safeties get the most playing time. Safety Sammy Knight has been pretty good. He turns his hips and runs better than I thought he would. The two rookies are also good in coverage. In fact, I believe both Page and Pollard will make the team. I'm not sure about the odd men out, but it will probably be Scott Connott or even William Bartee. The safeties are interchangeable in the scheme, so the Chiefs will likely keep four.

This morning was a good practice for the rookie wide receivers. Both Chris Hannon and Jeff Webb got the best of most of the defensive backs they faced in one-on-one drills. Webb burned cornerback Benny Sapp badly on one play for a touchdown. Hannon took advantage of safety Greg Wesley on a post.

I've continued to hear rumors about the Chiefs wanting a wide receiver. I don't know what to make of those rumors, but we'll continue to monitor them. Thorpe's got to get healthy. The Chiefs need him as the third receiver to rest Dante Hall. If he can't go, that almost forces the Chiefs hand unless one of the young veterans like Jeris McIntyre, Nate Curry or Darrell Hill step up.

08/2/06 - Updated 11:42 PM
Training Camp Blog PM Day 6 - Suddenly, the Chiefs backfield just got a lot better. The flip side of the signing is the message the Chiefs just screamed to their incumbent running back reserves. They're now down to competing for one spot. The pressure's on for Dee Brown, Quentin Griffin and McKenzi Smith. Derrick Ross or DeArrius Howard could end up on the practice squad.

Ross has pressing a little lately. He's a heck of a runner, but he's been looking upfield before catching the ball and dropping it. Ross has got running down, but if he's going to make the team, he better show he can do the little things the Chiefs expect from their running backs. The Chiefs are giving him the opportunity, though, and taking the time to develop him.

No Lional Dalton today and still no Brian Waters to be seen. Cornerbacks Alphonso Hodge and Lenny Walls are still watching from the sidelines. Tight end Jason Dunn watched practice for the second consecutive day, but he's just resting. The Chiefs have been working the league's best blocking tight end awfully hard. He's earned a rest. It seems Coach Edwards believes in resting veterans, which is probably a major reason why morale is so high.

The Chiefs mixed up the line rotations today. Defensive tackles Ron Edwards and James Reed did some time with the starters, offensive tackle Kevin Sampson took reps on the left side, and Ryan Sims ran with the second-team. It looked like the Chiefs were really giving guys the opportunity to show what they can do. I won't make a big deal about any of the moves until guys are in a position for a while.

It appears that the Chiefs may abandon the idea of tight end Kris Wilson as a backup fullback, but I wouldn't be surprised if you saw the Chiefs using him as an H-back.

On a busted play, quarterback Trent Green tucked the ball down and went upfield, with Derrick Johnson in HOT pursuit. You know those nature shows where the antelope is being chased by the cheetah? It was a lot like that. Still, Green got on his horse and almost outran Johnson. Almost. The old guy can still run.

Now that we've had the opportunity see these guys for a while, I can't wait to see how they do in games. I'd like to see offensive tackle Will Svitek line up against an NFL defensive end. I'd like to see Derrick Ross run. Casey Printers adds a different dimension to the offense with his scrambling ability. I'd like to see that in game conditions. Guys don't scramble much in practice, so I'd like to see his ability to make plays with his feet.

08/1/06 - Updated 10:40 PM
Training Camp Blog PM Day 5 - The Chiefs cancelled their morning practice due to a soggy field today, but they braved the moist conditions and hit the practice field in shells this afternoon. It's nice to get some cooler weather (notice I didn't say cool), even if it meant a little rain.

Before I go any further, I'd like to thank Zarda BBQ, who fed the media lunch this afternoon. There's a lack of quality food here, and it was nice to get a taste of home. Warpaint publisher Nick Athan, who weighs about 98 pounds soaking wet, has been complaining about the food the entire trip and ate more than I've ever seen him eat.

The most notable player missing today was defensive tackle John Browning. Wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe was carrying his shoulder much better that the previous day. An improved Thorpe gives the Chiefs a much deeper receiving corps than in years past, so they need him.

Rookie defensive end Tamba Hali stepped right back in playing with the first team. Defensive end Eric Hicks is back with the second team. At this point, I'm waiting for the first preseason game to see who steps on the field for the first series. Herman Edwards said he's encouraging competition and giving the young guys the opportunity to win a spot, but Hicks is a proven commodity. The Chiefs already know what they're going to get from Hicks. Hali needs more reps due to his inexperience.

Edwards said there's open competition at every position, but watching the linebackers, none of the young ones play with the starters. Cornerbacks Ty Law and Patrick Surtain have been getting all of the starters' reps, as have safeties Greg Wesley and Sammy Knight. During OTAs, several young players took the place of starters, but that's not happening much in training camp. I have a feeling that Hali will be the starter this year, barring any earth-shattering occurrence.

Defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson beat reserve tackle Jeremy Parquet badly on successive plays. Wilkerson has been lining up at defensive tackle a lot, but he was playing end when he took Parquet to school.

Guard Peter Heyer is an intriguing player. The German offensive lineman has been with the team now for about two years now after coming aboard as a developmental prospect. In his second training camp with the Chiefs, you can see he's improved. Heyer bounced around before getting to the Chiefs, playing with the Rams and Saints for a year each. He's got good feet, strong technique and he battles on every rep. I'd like to see what he becomes with another season of development, even if he doesn't make the roster this year.

Cornerback Benny Sapp has an interesting trait. On almost every rep, he keeps running until he touches an offensive player, even if the guy is way in front. It's tiny, but it's a good habit. He's the only player to do it consistently.

Wide receiver Nate Curry is quietly having a good camp. He was decent in NFL Europe this year, and he's what Dick Vermeil used to call "an ascending player." The only question is if his progress will be enough, because wide receiver slots are filling up fast.

Cornerback Justin Perkins had pretty good day despite getting beat deep for a touchdown by wide receiver Kyle Brown. Perkins incepted a pass intended for tight end Robert Docherty before Brown torched him. He then shook that off to intercept a pass intended for wide receiver Jeff Webb. A short memory is one of the best characteristics a corner can have.

08/1/06 - Updated 12:57 AM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 5 - Wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe was back at full practice and made an impressive catch right off the bat. I still think his shoulder might be bothering him. He didn't say anything, and I can't confirm it, but the way he carried his right arm indicated to me that he may be hurting. I never saw him straighten the arm except to reach out and make the catch.

Defensive tackle Ron Edwards also returned to practice. Brian Waters is still absent.

On the subject of coming back from injury, it occurred to me that cornerback Alphonso Hodge needs to get healthy quickly. You can't rush these things, but every rep he misses while sitting on the sideline is another opportunity for someone else to impress the coaches. Of all the people on the PUP, he's probably hurting himself the most by missing time. Safety William Bartee and defensive tackle Junior Siavii are on the hot seat already, and rookie cornerback Marcus Maxey was probably heading for the practice squad anyway. Hodge needs a strong camp to earn a spot in the cornerback rotation.

Running backs coach James Saxon spent some extra time after camp with rookie free agent fullback J.R. Niklos and halfback DeArrius Howard, working on blocking. Depending on what the Chiefs do with tight end Kris Wilson, the Chiefs could have a slot for a backup fullback. If the Chiefs decide to use Wilson as an H-back or second fullback, which it looks like they may do, they could use that extra slot for another linebacker, cornerback or wide receiver. We'll see what develops.

07/31/06 - Updated 2:57 PM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 4 - This morning was another hot one up here in River Falls. The buzz of the day has nothing to do with football; it's the cold front that should be here sometime tonight. That'll bring temperatures down to more normal levels, at least for a while.

As everyone probably knows by now, rookie defensive end Tamba Hali is off in New Jersey taking his citizenship test. There was a little tension at first this morning when people started noticing that Eric Hicks was playing first team defensive end, and that Hali was nowhere to be found. Finally, Rhonda Moss of 610 Sports (a fantastic reporter, by the way) remembered that today was the day, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

I got the opportunity to track down Lenny Walls after practice today. He's optimistic that he'll be returning soon. Apparently, he tweaked his hamstring covering Dante Hall on a post pattern earlier in camp. Walls says it's not serious, and that it's not a pull or anything, just a tweak.

Wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe returned to practice today, but I didn't get much of an opportunity to see him. He didn't appear to participate much, but we'll see how much he practices tonight. We've been waiting to see him. Thorpe had such an outstanding off-season, we've been eager to see him with pads on.

Wide receiver Jeris McIntyre has been having a pretty solid camp. He started to flash a little in OTAs, and he's continuing his strong play in training camp. The clock is ticking for McIntyre, who may have a tough time making this team. Watching him, you can see why the Chiefs have kept him around. He has a little bit of a different body from what you'd typically see in a receiver in this offense. He's a little stockier than the other guys. He doesn't have blazing speed like Eddie Kennison or Samie Parker, but he runs good routes and has solid hands. I think McIntyre would make an excellent possession receiver. He's not that tall, but he can shield defensive backs from the ball.

Fullback Ronnie Cruz is having a heck of a camp so far. It's still early, but I'm now pretty certain that it's his job, if it wasn't already. Hopefully, Cruz can continue the run of fantastic fullbacks the Chiefs have enjoyed for years now.

I don't get to see other teams' backups much, but I'd be willing to bet that the Chiefs have some of the best second-team linebackers in the NFL. Rich Scanlon and Keyaron Fox could be solid starters on almost any other team in the league. They're athletic, they diagnose plays and they bring wood on every tackle. Boomer Grigsby has as much heart and passion as anyone, and every day he gets better. It's nice to see that the Chiefs have turned a weakness into a real strength over the last few years.

07/30/06 - Updated 11:30 AM
Training Camp Blog PM Day 3 - There was only a special teams practice this afternoon. I hate to minimize it like that, but watching special teams practices tend to get boring. I guess that's why the special teams phase of the game tends to be overlooked, despite its importance team success.

Punter Dustin Colquitt boomed most of his punts, which has to make special teams coach Mike Priefer happy. Looks like the Chiefs drafted a couple of pretty good coverage guys in safeties Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page. Traditionally, special teams is a good way to make the team as a young player. Since coverage units are comprised of backup players, the ability to play special teams makes a difference in the team's decision to keep a player or let him go.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes has about as strong a leg as I've seen. He doesn't seem to put a lot of extra effort in his kicks, but they definitely travel. The only question surrounding Tynes is his consistency. Tynes has the leg strength to make 50-yard field goals and send kickoffs to the goal line, but he's got to make sure he puts it where he wants it every time.

In the return game, the Chiefs are still waiting for Dante Hall to return to his 2003 Pro Bowl form. A lot of that will depend on the Chiefs ability block and open holes for him. In 2003, they had linebackers Gary Stills, Mike Maslowski and Quinton Caver blocking for him. The Chiefs need to develop that kind of return unit under Preifer to give Hall the opportunities to make plays.

Updated 2:01 PM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 3 - This is why the Chiefs come to River Falls for training camp. Although it's still warmer than usual, there was a stiff breeze this morning that made it borderline chilly at times. Hearing about the 100-degree temperatures in Kansas City makes me glad I'm here. Sorry, I had to rub that one in.

Brian Waters was a no-show today. Head coach Herm Edwards indicated that he didn't know when Waters would be back. He made a valid point about younger guys getting additional reps, which could help them get better faster, but I'm concerned about the left side of the Chiefs' offensive line right now.

Cornerback Ty Law's first practice with the Chiefs was a little anticlimactic. With the hype surrounding his signing, I half expected him to emerge from behind the bleachers wearing a feather boa and shades, playing air guitar. Instead, No. 24 trotted out with his teammates, stretched and quietly went to work. Exactly how it should have been.

Looking at the cornerbacks not named Ty Law, a couple of guys are taking advantage of the absence of Lenny Walls and Alphonso Hodge. Free agent acquisition Chris Johnson has been solid so far. I haven't seen him get out of position and he's been making plays. Jerald Brown, who was picked up from the Arena league this off-season, had a fantastic morning, even intercepting a pass in one-on-one drills. Wide receiver Eddie Kennison complimented Brown after he was tightly covered on one play.

Guard Will Shields officially welcomed rookie defensive end Tamba Hali to the NFL. Shields dominated Hali in blocking drills. Hali still needs to get better at using his hands, and Shields showed him why. I can't think of a better teacher for a young defensive lineman than Will Shields, other than Willie Roaf, of course.

Defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson has bulked up a bit. After practice, he said he had gained about five pounds, but it looks more like 20. The Chiefs are playing him inside a lot, but he'll continue to play on the outside at times. Based on that, it appears that Wilkerson will eventually assume the "Swiss Army Knife" lineman role currently held by the Chiefs most versatile defensive lineman, John Browning.

Interesting Chiefs trivia: rookie safety Bernard Pollard is a drummer (which makes me like him even more). Guess he has to hit things when he's off the field, too.

There's a special teams practice this afternoon, so there probably won't be a lot to report. We'll see how it goes.

07/29/06 - Updated 10:57 PM
Training Camp Blog PM Day 2 - For the first time in 2006, the Chiefs put on the pads. This is the opportunity we've all been waiting for. We finally get to see who can play and who's been pretending. It's always a good time when the players are in pads. Maybe not for them so much, but if you're watching practice, it breaks away from the monotony of shells.

One-on-one drills take on a whole different tone in pads. Running back/linebacker blocking drills were especially intense, and the linebacker unit dominated. Running back DeArrius Howard struggled. He wasn't able to get his hands on anyone, which was surprising considering he has good size and athleticism. Running back Derrick Ross had the misfortune of drawing linebacker Derrick Johnson three times in a row. Johnson took the rookie to school, showing him a different move at every rep.

Running back Quentin Griffin also struggled. He's a gamer, but he's also small. It's tough to imagine that he would be a reliable blocker in any game this year. Even star running back Larry Johnson had a problem corralling linebacker Keyaron Fox, who's quickness is second only to Derrick Johnson's among the linebackers.

One guy who didn't have any problem with blocking was fullback Ronnie Cruz. He appears to be a physical, mauling fullback who has no problem mixing it up with defenders. He handled every player who came his way, something you love to see from a young player who the Chiefs are counting on.

Tight end Kris Wilson got some reps in with the running backs, working on his blocking out of the backfield. I haven't seen him doing anything else that would indicate his H-back role, something Chiefs fans have been anticipating since he arrived three years ago. I will continue to watch and see what happens.

I got the opportunity to talk to cornerback Alphonso Hodge about being on the PUP list. Apparently he had some minor work done on his knee towards the end of OTAs and should return shortly.

Defensive end Eric Hicks participated in practice, taking reps with the second team. There's nothing really to make out of that yet, but we'll see how the situation develops.

It was a little weird to see Greg Wesley and Sammy Knight switching safety positions. In the Cover 2, of course, the two safety spots are interchangeable. But it was strange seeing Knight on the same side of the field as Kendrell Bell.

On the subject of safeties, Jarrad Page flashed today. He looked as good as fellow rookie Bernard Pollard has looked since joining the team. The two safeties also appear to be developing a good rapport with each other. Chemistry is underrated in football.

Updated 1:30 PM
Training Camp Blog AM Day 2 - After a sloppy first day, the Chiefs looked sharper while the temperatures were still relatively cool. Yesterday, the heat appeared to sap the team's energy, but they rebounded this morning. Head coach Herm Edwards was his usual frenetic self, running from drill to drill like the Energizer Bunny.

Adding to the Chiefs offensive line woes, guard Brian Waters went down during practice. He appeared to be clutching his left hamstring when he went down, but Edwards said it was a sprained foot. Waters walked off the field under his own power, but didn't return to practice. He's having the injury looked at and hopefully we'll have more information this afternoon.

Offensive tackle Kyle Turley continues to man the left tackle spot despite his low weight. Turley says he's right where he wants to be weight-wise, but he still doesn't pass the eyeball test for an NFL offensive tackle. His technique is virtually flawless; he has outstanding footwork and puts himself in a position to use his power most of the time. Those skills will help, but Turley needs to add more weight.

Newly signed first-rounder Tamba Hali has been working out primarily with the starters. Coach Edwards has said that there's nothing to look into there, and that he's allowing competition at the spot. Defensive end Eric Hicks, last year's starter, hasn't been participating in team drills.

Linebacker Kendrell Bell looks to be answering the questions surrounding the competition at his outside spot. Bell has picked up right where he left off in OTAs, continuing to show the athleticism and smarts he couldn't last year when he struggled through injuries.

The first hard hit of the season goes to rookie safety Bernard Pollard. He came up and smacked running back Derrick Ross on a perimeter run. The only thing more impressive than the hit was the fact that Ross didn't flinch after taking the blow. Speaking of Ross, the Chiefs have been working him hard during the last couple of practices. Both reserve running back spots are wide open, and the Chiefs appear to be giving Ross every opportunity to win one of them.

Tight end Jason Dunn put in plenty of work on the JUGGS machine after this morning's practice. It was the most I've seen him work on his hands in one session. Seeing him focus on his hands like that, combined with all the pass routes he was running in OTAs, it appears the Chiefs may be looking to get Dunn more involved in the passing offense.

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